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Monday, August 21, 2023
12:30 - 3:30 pm (Eastern time)
Monday, August 21, 2023
Starts at 1:30 pm (Eastern time)
PEPPERELL, MA – Judith Mann Lorimer, 82, passed away on June 16, 2023. Judy was born in Boston, MA on January 18, 1941, the first child of Dr. Robert V. Lorimer and Lily (Mann) Lorimer. After her father returned from World War II, the family moved to Portland, Maine.
As a young person and later as an adult, Judy cultivated a wide variety of interests and activities, including horseback riding, music, dance, and environmental causes. She graduated from South Portland High School in 1959. She enrolled at the University of Maine but took a year off and worked as a dance instructor at the Arthur Murray studio in Portland, later transferring to Clark University in Worcester, where she graduated with a degree in English Literature in 1965.
In the mid-1960s, Judy became involved in the folk music revival and learned to play the guitar. One summer she worked as a “table-to-table minstrel” in the rooftop lounge at the Eastland Hotel, where she recalled “singing about love and death and politics while people were dining on spare ribs.”
After graduation, she took education courses in Boston and worked with the Head Start program and the Boston City Hospital day care center. In 1971, having become somewhat weary of city life, she moved to rural Massachusetts, working for the rest of her career as a kindergarten teacher in Harvard, MA. While she noted that class chemistry varied from year to year, groups of hyperactive children were a common phenomenon. She joked that such kids were like “a pot of popcorn kernels on the stove with the burner turned on High and no lid on the pot.”
After moving to Pepperell, MA, she was able to rekindle her long-dormant interest in horses and trail riding, owning one or two horses at a time in a barn in the back yard. She completed more than 7,000 miles of long-distance trail riding throughout New England and was newsletter editor for the Eastern Competitive Trail Riders Association.
In the early 1990s she took some courses in African art and dance to better inform her students about Black history and culture, and was “immediately hooked.” She became involved in local African cultural events and traveled to Mali. Noting the low literacy rate and that schools in Mali were often little more than an empty room in mud huts with straw mats on the floor, she co-founded the “Build a School in Africa” organization and did much of the fund-raising. For the next 20 years she was able to assist in supervising the construction of more than 30 schools, traveling to Mali almost every year. One school was even named in her honor. “If you’d told me 30 years ago, I’d be going to Africa every year, I would have said you’re crazy. But it’s changed my life too, for the better.”
Riding horses, splitting wood, and her interests in ethnic dance helped keep Judy trim and fit, and she was still riding horses at age 78.
She was predeceased by her parents, Robert V. and Lily M. Lorimer, by a sister, Jean C. Reed, and by brothers-in-law John Hewel and James Reed.
She is survived by a sister, Nancy S. Hewel of Deptford, NJ, two brothers, Robert D. Lorimer (wife Sascha) of Bangor, Maine, and Craig G. Lorimer (wife Amy) of Madison, WI, 4 nieces, and one nephew.
A Celebration of Life is planned for Monday, August 21st, from 12:30-3:30 pm at McGaffigan Family Funeral Home, 37 Main St (Rte. 113), Pepperell, MA (sharing of memories at 1:30 pm).